October 15, 1986: Game Six of the NLCS

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Date: October 15, 1986
Mets starter: Bob Ojeda
Mets: 7
Astros: 6
Winning pitcher: Jesse Orosco
Key player(s): Len Dykstra, Billy Hatcher, Ray Knight, Jesse Orosco
Key play: Dykstra's triple, Hatcher's HR, Knight's single, Orosco's strikeout of Bass

The Mets faced the Astros in the sixth game of the National League Championship Series on a Wednesday afternoon in Houston. The teams played a heart-wrenching game that lasted four hours and forty-two minutes. In the end, the Mets had come away with a 7-6 win in 16 innings to capture the pennant.

Astros’ starter Bob Knepper retired the Mets in order in the top of the first inning. Bill Doran singled off the Mets’ Bob Ojeda to begin the bottom half. Billy Hatcher hit a force play ground ball to first baseman Keith Hernandez and came around to score on an ensuing double by Phil Garner. Glenn Davis singled to drive home Garner and a walk to Kevin Bass followed. Jose Cruz hit a single to plate Davis with the third Houston run and send Bass to third base. With Alan Ashby at bat, Bass was caught between third and home and tagged out by third baseman Ray Knight. Ojeda then got Ashby on an inning-ending line drive to shortstop Rafael Santana.

Knepper and Ojeda each pitched one-hit scoreless ball from the second inning to the fifth. Singles by Santana and Hatcher were the only hits for the teams during the four-inning stint. In the top of the sixth, Knepper set down the side in order. Mets’ reliever Rick Aguilera held the Astros to a double by Davis in the bottom half . Knepper hurled a perfect top of the seventh and Aguilera retired all three Houston batters in the bottom of the inning. Tim Teufel singled for the Mets’ second hit with one out in the top of the eighth. Santana hit a ground ball to shortstop Dickie Thon for a double play that ended the inning. Aguilera then set down the Astros in order on three infield ground balls in the bottom half.

Pinch-hitter Lenny Dykstra tripled off Knepper to open the top of the ninth inning. An ensuing single by Mookie Wilson scored Dykstra with the Mets’ first run of the game. Kevin Mitchell grounded out to third baseman Denny Walling and a double by Hernandez brought home Wilson. Houston reliever Dave Smith issued walks to Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry to load the bases. Knight hit a sacrifice fly to plate Hernandez and tie the game. Pinch-hitter Wally Backman was walked intentionally to reload the bases. Smith fanned pinch-hitter Danny Heep for the third out. Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell then retired the Astros 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

Smith and McDowell each pitched a perfect 10th inning. Houston’s Larry Andersen shut down the Mets in the top of the 11th. McDowell retired all three Houston batters on infield grounders in the bottom half and Andersen hurled a perfect top of the 12th. Bass singled with one out in the bottom of the inning. With Cruz at bat, Bass was caught stealing via a throw by catcher Carter to shortstop Kevin Elster. Cruz hit a ground ball to second baseman Backman to end the inning. Andersen set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the 13th. McDowell then retired the Astros in order in the bottom half.

Carter singled off Houston reliever Aurelio Lopez to start the top of the 14th inning. Strawberry drew a walk and Knight laid down a bunt on which Lopez threw to Walling for a force out on Carter. Backman singled to drive home Strawberry and give the Mets a 4-3 lead. Pinch-hitter Howard Johnson fouled out to catcher Ashby. Dykstra was walked intentionally to load the bases. Lopez then struck out Wilson to finish off the inning.

Mets’ reliever Jesse Orosco fanned Doran to open the bottom of the 14th. Hatcher followed with a game-tying home run off the screen down the left field line. Walling grounded out to Hernandez and a pop-up by Davis was caught by Backman to end the inning. Lopez pitched a scoreless top of the 15th. Orosco then retired all three Astros hitters in the bottom of the inning.

Strawberry doubled off Lopez to begin the top of the 16th. Knight followed with a single to score Strawberry and moved to second base on right fielder Bass’s throw. Ray advanced to third on a wild pitch by Houston reliever Jeff Calhoun. Backman drew a walk and Calhoun’s second wild pitch of the inning brought home Knight. A sacrifice bunt by Orosco moved Backman from second to third base. Dykstra singled to score Wally and extend the Mets’ lead to 7-4. Calhoun then got Wilson on a ground ball to second baseman Doran for an inning-ending double play.

Orosco struck out Craig Reynolds to start the bottom of the 16th. Pinch-hitter Dave Lopes followed with a walk and advanced to second base on a single by Doran. Hatcher singled to drive home Lopes and send Doran to second. Walling hit a force play grounder to Hernandez for the second out of the inning. A single by Davis plated Doran to cut the New York lead to one run. Orosco then struck out Bass to end the game. The Mets had an exciting victory and were on their way to the World Series.